Month: January 2017

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McCarthy has struggled with game management in key situations during previous playoffs

It wasn’t a prediction, like Joe Namath’s brash guarantee before Super Bowl III, but to Green Bay, it was just as big.

“Heck yeah,” Cook said last week, days before the catch. “It’s a bold statement for somebody to make in the type of game that we play. And we rallied behind him.”

It helps, of course, that Rodgers has backed up his words and put together one of the most dominant eight-week runs in NFL history. No quarterback in recent memory has been more clutch, more accurate, more confident. That 35-yard pass to Cook came just two plays after Rodgers had been crushed on a blindside hit, his throwing arm wilting as he fell to the ground, yet Rodgers somehow managed to hang on to the ball. He had 35 seconds for the final scoring drive. And it was way too much time to give Rodgers. “Let’s just get this done” is what Packers tackle Bryan Bulaga thinks he heard from Rodgers in those chaotic final seconds.

McCarthy has struggled with game management in key situations during previous playoffs. As I wrote about on Sunday, McCarthy has shown little aptitude for handling his team’s fourth-quarter decisions, particularly as an underdog.

Against the Seahawks two years ago, McCarthy kicked twice on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the first quarter, then clung to a bizarre emphasis on the number of carries his team should have in the second half in an attempt to hold on to the lead.

You might argue that McCarthy was unlucky to lose the coin toss and have his defense give up a season-ending touchdown within three plays from scrimmage after his decision to kick the extra point, that it was the worst possible outcome for his decision. That’s fair. It’s also fair to say he got the best possible outcome for making the same sort of bizarrely conservative mistake again last Sunday against the Cowboys.


Ken Stabler personified daring and fun

Ken Stabler’s death revealed just how completely he had lived. Memories poured from those who knew him, or at least had watched him play. It didn’t matter if you had gotten to know Stabler in the 1970s or just recently. If the truest sentiments were the most echoed, then we can draw two indelible conclusions: Stabler was daring and Stabler was fun.

Mark Davis released a statement saying that Stabler personified “what it means to be a Raider.” The statement from Stabler’s former head coach, John Madden, expanded on what that might mean.

I’ve often said, If I had one drive to win a game to this day, and I had a quarterback to pick, I would pick Kenny. Snake was a lot cooler than I was. He was a perfect quarterback and a perfect Raider. When you think about the Raiders you think about Ken Stabler.
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Elite Womens Rene Bourque Jersey Stabler is described as fun-loving and cool, with maverick sensibilities on and off the field. He was every trope of a 1970s NFL quarterback, basically. He was also really good. He helped the Raiders to five conference championship appearances in six seasons from 1973 to 1978. In 1976, he led the team to a Super Bowl championship. That season, his 66.7 percent completion rate, 27 passing touchdowns, 103.4 passer rating and 9.41 yards per attempts all led the NFL. Stabler threw 150 touchdown passes during the 70s — third-most during that decade. He is the only quarterback who won a Super Bowl during that period who isn’t yet in the Hall of Fame.

Provided the league sticks to the same formula, the first round will take place on Thursday, April 28. Then, Rounds 2-3 will be on Friday, April 29, while Rounds 4-7 will be held on Saturday, April 30.


The Boston Celtics are 13-3 over their last 16 games and have distinguished themselves in the Eastern Conference

Jonathan Bullard Mens Jersey The Boston Celtics are 13-3 over their last 16 games and have distinguished themselves in the Eastern Conference. Spearheaded by the play of Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics are putting up absurd offensive numbers and currently own the seventh-best offensive rating in the league.

The NFL playoffs — and the race to Super Bowl LI — are in full swing, including this weekend’s divisional round games. Check out ESPN.com’s coverage of every postseason game.

Matt Adams Mens Jersey With receivers Randall Cobb and Jared Cook mimicking Nelson’s boundary-play magic, QB Aaron Rodgers looked as unstoppable and invulnerable as ever in Sunday’s fingernail-shredder in Arlington, Texas. Getting Nelson back from the injury he suffered in the wild-card victory over the Giants would obviously help the Packers win a shootout, especially if No. 1 Falcons receiver Julio Jones is out or struggling with his foot injury. But Rodgers could be on a historic roll that’s impervious to outside forces, as if he were the central character in some kind of football-themed Harry Potter reboot. State Farm commercials aside, nothing has gone wrong for Rodgers in months.

Language, of course, is another barrier. Few Chinese players speak English well, making the teams’ translators often the go-to person for foreign players.

“Many CBA teams are in second-tier or third-tier cities,” Shao said. “Even if [foreign players] want to be more involved, the opportunities are not there. Some translators speak some English, but their lack of overseas experience makes it tough for players to communicate with them effectively.”

All of that, plus unfamiliar officiating rules and overwhelming expectations from fans and media, have made it difficult to replicate Marbury’s success in China.


Allen didn’t point the finger at anybody but himself

Allen has evolved into one of the leaders of the defense. Taking up a leadership role means setting an example with your play, and Allen followed through with a timely interception of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson midway through the fourth quarter. It was one of two interceptions by the Falcons, with rookie Deion Jones getting the other off a deflection. And the Falcons didn’t turn the ball over on offense.

“If you win the turnover battle in the playoffs, you’re usually going to win the game,” Allen said. “And we knew that. And we said we needed to come out with one or two of them, and we did.”

Denver Broncos: This season never quite came together for the defending Super Bowl champs. Bottom line: This season’s Broncos never had the single-minded purpose of the 2015 team.

Authentic Mens Lance Dunbar Jersey Detroit Lions: This is a very tough season to judge. The Lions weren’t expected to be in the playoff hunt, yet Detroit had a two-game division lead with three weeks left in the regular season.
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Houston Texans: The Texans did not live up to the high expectations they had entering the season, and they came up short again after losing to the Patriots.

Indianapolis Colts: Disappointing. Underachieving. Embarrassing. The list of adjectives can go on and on to describe the second straight season in which the Colts missed the playoffs.

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars set a franchise record for most consecutive losses in a single season (nine) and again finished in the AFC South cellar.


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I gave Chip Kelly the coveted “Road Grader of the Week” award

In the last MMBM, I gave Chip Kelly the coveted “Road Grader of the Week” award for suspending RB DeMarco Murray for a day from practice for being too hydrated. I was wrong to praise him so quickly. Just when I thought he was a real old school football coach, I get a tip from a reader telling me that Chip Kelly had the Eagles doing sunrise yoga in the Lincoln field parking lot the morning of there game against the Colts:

I stopped by my car first then proceeded to walk directly towards the group in hopes of snapping a picture, but they were heavily garded. I saw with my own 2 eyes the team doing yoga stretches in unison. unreal. Then as I headed back to my room, I snapped this picture from the 3rd floor window near the elevator. My wife was not going to believe I saw the second best team in Pennsylvania doing yoga stretches in a parking lot on a Sunday morning! NOT very Christian IMO.
And heres the photo evidence:

Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
With DeAngelo Williams gone to Pittsburgh, Stewart can now take the Carolina running back job unencumbered (unless you are a serious Jordan Todman believer or something). Based on his performance down the stretch in 2014 — averaging 10.6 fantasy points in the season’s last seven weeks and 12 in the last five — Stewart is certainly enticing. The downside is that he averaged barely nine games a year the last three seasons, with injuries wrecking his value. At 28, he isn’t likely to get more durable. Stewart should offer fine value as a low-end RB2.

The problem is that drafting him virtually guarantees you have to spend another early-ish pick a second running back, if only as an insurance policy. And if you take someone healthier than Stewart, you can use that pick on another need elsewhere.


The hiring of Marrone and retention of Hackett is essentially the Jaguars going all-in on Bortles

Bortles completed more than 64 percent of his passes in each of the final two games of the season. He did that just once in the previous 14 games.

The final two games were his best of the season and renewed hoped that Bortles can indeed be the player around whom the franchise is built.
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The hiring of Marrone and retention of Hackett is essentially the Jaguars going all-in on Bortles, especially when you factor in general manager Dave Caldwell’s two-year contract extension, which puts him and Marrone on the same timetable. All four are tied together now, so if Marrone and Hackett can get Bortles on track and if the Jaguars win games, things will be good.
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There are reasons to believe Bortles will be better in 2017. He didn’t spend much time in California working with his personal coach last offseason, choosing instead to stay in Jacksonville and throw with Jaguars receivers. Olson encouraged that, Bortles said.

“Could they get him the ball more?” asked Belichick. “I guess they could. But they get it to him a lot. He’s definitely a go-to guy in the passing game, not just in terms of just making plays and [Ben] Roethlisberger going to him, but in terms of scheme, and plays that are designed to — if not get him the ball — at least get him a look.”

Will they try to add even more ways to get Brown the ball? Would that be smart? The Patriots will almost surely look to scheme against Brown as the Steelers’ top offensive threat. While that hasn’t exactly worked for anyone over the past two years, Pittsburgh really will have to hope another player — maybe Markus Wheaton or Dri Archer — can step up and account for some of that missing production.

Pittsburgh can weather this two-game suspension, but it’s pretty clear that they’ll have to get creative in replacing Bell’s enormous playmaking impact and sheer volume of action in their offense.


Steelers vs. Chargers 2015 picks and predictions: Experts taking San Diego to roll to 3-2

There are only a handful of matchups in the NFL with more distance between them than the San Diego Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers. That 2,400-mile trip for the Steelers could be a factor in the majority of experts taking the Chargers to improve to 3-2.

Let’s take a more in-depth look into a key early-season showdown for both teams.

Elite Mens Bo Jackson Jersey Just two of Michael Vick’s 25 pass attempts against the Ravens traveled farther than 20 yards downfield, and both were incomplete. With Vick only having three days to prepare to be the starter in that game, the Steelers went ultra-conservative with their play calling, leaning heavily on the recently returned Le’Veon Bell to move the offense on the ground.

Harry Douglas Mens Jersey But with an extra week of prep combined with the return of deep-threat receiver Martavis Bryant and a San Diego defense that ranks in the bottom fourth of the league in yards allowed per attempt, expect Pittsburgh to press the ball downfield a bit more this week.

An injury-riddled Chargers offensive line started three new players against the Browns last week, but the group ended up doing a solid job. With their starting left tackle, left guard and center sidelined, the line allowed Philip Rivers to be pressured on just 10 of 40 drop backs. The run blocking wasn’t as hot: Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead averaged a measly 1.8 yards before contact on their 20 carries.


Mort & Schefter’s wild-card notebook: Tyrod Taylor’s future

Topics this week include Tyrod Taylor’s future with the Buffalo Bills, quarterbacks who declare for the NFL draft before they have four seasons of college football under their belts, the turnover of NFL head coaches, a pair of top 2014 draft picks who will meet on the postseason stage and first-year coaches who have had quick success.

Is Tyrod Taylor’s time in Buffalo over?

“Maybe I was not adapting as well to some of the things he does well,” offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said. “So we tried to do that a little bit more. He’s got the ball in his hands a little bit more.

“That’s obviously been good for us.”

No one can truly explain how Tate gets open and how he makes guys miss. Since he entered the NFL in 2010, only two receivers — Antonio Brown and Demaryius Thomas — have more yards after the catch than Tate’s 2,835 yards (over 52 percent of his career receiving yards).

Authentic Mens Kellen Clemens Jersey He’ll look to continue torquing his body to succeed against his old team, Seattle, on Saturday.

“He’s a great player and a great athlete, and the more activity the better for him,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “As you know, he’s such a great run-after-catch guy, too.

“They were just more committed to drop-back throwing and utilizing him in the way they have, and they’ve done a great job with him.”
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The Giants’ defense was decimated and devoid of talent last season. They were coming off their third consecutive losing year and fourth straight without the playoffs. Reese was under pressure to turn it around, and to do it quickly. But seeing Wilson constantly scramble for his life tends to call Carroll’s gamble into question. If Seattle’s playoff run is abbreviated because of Fant and his linemates, he’ll hear about it.


The Braves¡¯ injury history in context

Injuries are a frustrating, yet ever-present part of modern major league baseball. Front offices make myriad moves with the hopes that the way their teams look on paper translate to on-field success, but the injury bug can lay waste to the best-laid plans of managers and men. To a large extent, many around the game think that the next wave of analytics will actually focus on something close to biomechanics, both helping to identify injury-prone players from the way they move on the field, and also helping players avoid injury by implementing helpful adjustments.

At the end of December of 2015, Green had five triple-doubles and finished the season with 13. There were also 10 games in the 2015-16 season where he fell two or fewer points, rebounds or assists shy of a triple-double.

Authentic Mens Lamarr Houston Jersey The Golden State duo¡¯s public shaming of stat sheet stuffing could be perceived as a shot at Durant¡¯s former teammate Russell Westbrook.
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It isn¡¯t breaking news that Westbrook leads the NBA with 16 triple-doubles anymore; it¡¯s more like common knowledge. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double and is on pace to become just the second player to do so over the course of a season since Oscar Robertson did it in the 1961-62 season.

For what it¡¯s worth, Westbrook is on record saying he doesn¡¯t care about triple-doubles. I¡¯m optimistic, though. The A¡¯s brand and culture needed an overhaul, and that starts at the top. The team recognized the problem and took legitimate, substantial action toward addressing it, and those are the first two steps toward fixing it.


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Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers orchestrated i

Green Bay is 9-6. The Detroit Lions are the same. When they meet at Detroit’s Ford Field on Sunday night, the winner claims the NFC North division. Green Bay won this division five consecutive seasons from 2011 through 2014 before Minnesota won it last year. Detroit has not won it since 1993. While Green Bay enters with a five-game winning streak, Detroit arrives with a two-game losing streak.

The Packers defensive resurrection is the crux of this rebirth.

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers orchestrated it.

“In my 31 years in the league, I’ve learned to stay off of the roller coaster,” Capers said in a telephone interview from his office on Wednesday night. “You just can’t listen to naysayers, or you have no chance. You do the best you can, and we’ve done that. We’ve been in playoff mode for awhile. We don’t want to come this far and take our feet off of that.”

But so are the Packers for the Lions today and in every historical way. Detroit has lost three of the last four meetings. This is the longest continuing rivalry in the NFL of teams that have played each other twice a year every year since 1932. Of their 174 meetings, Green Bay has won 99 of them.

Just last December, Green Bay at Ford Field completed the longest Hail Mary, game-ending touchdown pass (61 yards) in NFL history to beat the Lions 27-23.

But Capers is not relying on any historical Lions foibles.

He knows that the Lions naysayers in this game are some of the same ones that were Packers naysayers two months ago.

“They can be a fast-starting team, so, we have to handle their initial surge,” Capers said. “We have to handle that and we have to disrupt Stafford’s rhythm. We’ve got to get turnovers in this game.”

Capers remembers the 2010 season when Green Bay was 8-6 and had to beat the Giants and Chicago to make the playoffs then win playoff road games all the way to becoming champions. This Packers season reminds him of that path, a team that has created hope and rebirth in marching to this NFC North championship-deciding game.

“If you had told us back as the start of the season that we could win the division in our last game of the year, we would have taken it,” Capers said. “When we were 4-6 in Washington, we certainly would have taken it. These are the kind of games why we are all in this business. Our guys know it doesn’t mean a thing if we don’t take advantage of it.”